History with Brian James: Gold found in Bribbaree

Bank of NSW Bribbaree. Photo: contributed
Bank of NSW Bribbaree. Photo: contributed

Way back in the early 1860's a shepherd employed by one of the early squatting families, the Caldwells, discovered gold on the south-eastern side of the Bribbaree village, about three miles out.

The squatters did not want a gold rush to disrupt their cheap convict and Chinese labour force, the shepherd was not allowed to publicise his discovery.

The shepherd eventually drifted away from the area but returned with a friend in 1880 and was bent on prospecting on the ground where he had previously discovered gold.

William King joined them in attempting to find the original gold bearing site.

King, who at the age of 16 years had selected land of his own.

This area is at present covered by Mrs Thelma Carr's farm and is part of Neville Carr's soldier settlement farm.

The group spent some time trying to rediscover the shepherds earlier find but the erosion of time and weather, and lack of mining experience beat them.

William King was sure that the story of the gold was true and often repeated the story to any one who would listen.

Among those he told was Percy Light a long time resident of the Grenfell district.

About 1922 Percy was engaged in sawmilling on the "Somerset" subdivision and one day he started prospecting, and whilst dollying a piece of quartz on William Spring's part of" Somerset," Spring asked him was he looking for gold. Light answered "Yes".

With this William Spring informed him that there was some good looking stone where he had burnt out a tree stump in the process of clearing for cultivation.

Percy Light went to the location and took a sample which yielded traces of gold. A syndicate was formed and he applied for a prospecting licence in the area.

A small crushing was put through, a small battery from another gold field was used and the result was three oz. per ton.

A company with William Williams as manager was established to work the mine. Williams had experience in mining at Charters Towers.

Gold bearing leads were found on TC West's and on A Brophey's property.

The company worked Light's find until late 1926 and employed some 30 men at times.

This would have been acceptable for a syndicate but for a company the overhead expenses were too high.

The company called it a day by the end of 1826 and this saw the end of an opportunity for Bribbaree to develop a mining industry.

Bribbaree had developed with the Railway facilities, grain elevators, hotel accommodation, business and social activities, this all making a lively community.

When the squatter's and selectors arrived they found ample building material's in the bark, stripped from trees, slabs split for walls and later galvanised iron for roofing.

The first sawn timber came from the saw mill.

Cutting was done by cross-cut saws and manpower.

Early in the 1880's John Gough bought in a saw mill.

The light district soils produced a good quality cypress.

A lot of the timber produced by Gough's saw mill went to build the town of Young.

Gough was a building contractor and built many fine buildings.

Some of these included the Royal Hotel, the Railway Station and the Court House which later become a school and his own residence which later became The Old People's Home.

An early district craft was dairying, the first dairy being owned by Mrs Norton on part of "Argonne".

Mrs Norton conveyed her produce to Young for sale.

She lived to around the 100 year mark.

Dennis Foley acquired "Edgefern" and his son Jack carried on.

The Buttenshaws had "Roseneath" and son Ernie became prominent in state politics.

William Anderson purchased Buttenshaws and was another to live a long life, around 96 years.

Produced from a series of articles by JP King in The Young Witness in 1958.

  • Brian James produces his column each Tuesday for publication in the Young Witness on behalf of the Young Historical Society Inc.